Change has to start somewhere, and for many people that change is easier to make if the starting point has some meaning. It can be a birthday, an anniversary, or any other date with some symbolic weight. Most commonly, people choose the beginning of the new year.
If you’re looking for some New Year’s resolutions that will truly change your life, consider adjusting your financial strategy. Here are five things you can do in 2021 to take your money game to the next level.
Interest rates are at near-historic lows, which makes this the perfect time to refinance your debt. Refinancing means switching your loans from your current lender to a new lender in order to take advantage of a lower interest rate. Refinancing can save you thousands of dollars, depending on the original interest rate and total balance.
Â For example, letâs say you have a $200,000 30-year mortgage with a 5% interest rate, and you refinance to a 3% interest rate. Your monthly payment will be $244 lower, and youâll save $31,173 in total interest over the life of the loan.Â
You can refinance auto loans, personal loans, and even student loans. However, if you have federal student loans, you may want to hold off on refinancing. Refinancing a federal student loan converts it into a private student loan. This means youâll give up extra perks and benefits like income-driven repayment plans and deferment and forbearance options.
Transfer Credit Card Debt
If you have credit card debt, you can pay less interest by transferring the balance to a new card with 0% APR on balance transfers. These special discounts usually last between 12 to 18 months, during which time you wonât be charged interest on the credit card balance.
For instance, letâs say you have a $5,000 balance on a card with a 17% APR. If you only make the minimum payments, youâll pay $1,223.61 in total interest. If you transfer that balance to a card with 0% APR for 12 months and repay the balance in that time, you wonât pay any interest.
There is often a small fee associated with balance transfers, around 3% of balance transfers. For example, if you transfer $5,000, youâll pay a $150 fee. That still leaves a net savings of $1,073.61 in the scenario outlined above.
Decrease Your Fixed Expenses
One of the best things to do for your budget in 2021 is to decrease fixed expenses like your car insurance, internet, cable, and cell phone. Call those providers and try to negotiate a lower rate.
Â Go through your transactions for the past few months and write down all the recurring subscriptions like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and DoorDash. Then, group them into categories like âfrequently use,â âsporadically useâ and ârarely useâ. Consider canceling anything you rarely use.
Â See if you can get a better deal on your most popular subscriptions. For example, if you and your significant other both pay for Spotify Premium, get a Spotify Duo account instead, and save yourself $83.88 a year.
Open a Better Bank Account
Most people are missing out on an easy way to earn money through your bank account. You could be leaving hundreds of dollars on the table if you still have a traditional savings account.
According to the FDIC, the current average interest rate on a savings account is 0.05%. Many high-yield savings accounts offer rates between .40% and .60%.Â
Letâs say you have $10,000 in a savings account with .05% interest. After one year, youâll have earned $5.04 in interest. If you moved that amount to a high-yield savings account with .5% interest, you would earn $49.92 in interest over that same time period.
If you’re not investing for retirement yet, this might be the most important financial resolution you can make. Thanks to the power of compound interest, you can start investing now and see huge growth by the time youâre ready to retire.
IRAs and 401(k)s are the two main retirement accounts. Anyone can open an IRA, while only those who have access to an employer-sponsored 401(k) can open one.
Â If you’re not sure how to invest in your retirement account, consider hiring a qualified financial planner through the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA).
If youâre not ready to work with a financial planner, you can use a robo advisor like Betterment or Wealthfront, which will create a portfolio based on your age, income, and expected retirement age. Robo advisors have low fees and are designed to help beginner investors.
How to Keep Financial Resolutions
First, start small. Pick one habit to change at a time. If you try to accomplish five goals at once, you’ll burn out quickly and give up.Â
When you decide on a resolution, break it up into smaller, more manageable tasks. For example, if your goal is to talk to a financial planner about investing, break it down into the following steps:
1) Research financial planners through NAPFA
2) Send introductory emails to three financial planners
3) Choose the one that seems like the best fit
4) Schedule a consultation
Give yourself a deadline to accomplish each of these tasks, and ask a friend to hold you accountable.
Another tip is to tie your resolutions to a bigger goal. Like dieting or starting a new exercise plan, changing your financial habits is hard. If you’re used to grabbing lunch with your co-workers every day, bringing leftovers from home instead will seem like a huge change.
The key is to imagine the future version of yourself who will benefit from the changes you make today. If your goal is to open and contribute to a retirement account, imagine yourself as a senior citizen living comfortably.
When youâre tempted to skip this monthâs retirement contribution to buy concert tickets, think about your future self, what youâd want for them and how they would appreciate your sacrifice. It can also help to remember some of the financial mistakes you’ve made in the past, and how much easier your life would be right now if you had made a different choice.
The post The 5 Best Financial New Year’s Resolutions appeared first on MintLife Blog.
If you’re thinking about how much is enough for retirement, you’re probably contemplating a retirement and need to know how to pay for it. If you are, that’s good because one of the challenges we face is how we’re going to fund our retirement.
Determining then how much retirement savings is enough depends on a number of factors, including your lifestyle and your current income. Either way, you want to make sure that you have plenty of money in your retirement savings so you don’t work too hard, or work at all, during your golden years.
If you’re already thinking about retirement and you’re not sure whether your savings is in good shape, it may make sense to speak with a financial advisor to help you set up a savings plan.
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How Much Is Enough For Retirement?
Your needs and expectations might be different in retirement than others. Because of that, there’s no magic number out there. In other words, how much is enough for retirement depends on a myriad of personal factors.
However, the conventional wisdom out there is that you should have $1 million to $1.5 million, or that your retirement savings should be 10 to 12 times your current income.
Even $1 million may not be enough to retire comfortably. According to a report from a major personal finance website, GoBankingRates, you could easily blow $1 million in as little as 12 years.
GoBankingRates concludes that a better way to figure out how long $1 million will last you largely depends on your state. For example, if you live in California, the report found, “$1 Million will last you 14 years, 3 months, 7 days.” Whereas if you live in Mississippi, “$1 Million will last you 23 years, 2 months, 2 days.” In other words, how much is enough for retirement largely depends on the state you reside.
For some, coming up with that much money to retire comfortably can be scary, especially if you haven’t saved any money for retirement, or, if your savings is not where it’s supposed to be.
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Your current lifestyle and expected lifestyle?
What is your current lifestyle? To determine how much you need to save for retirement, you should determine how much your expenses are currently now and whether you intend to keep the current lifestyle during retirement.
So, if you’re making $110,000 and live off of $90,000, then multiply $90,000 by 20 ($1,800,000). With that number in mind, start working toward a retirement saving goals. However, if you intend to eat and spend lavishly during retirement, then you’ll obviously have to save more. And the same is true if you intend to reduce your expenses during retirement: you can save less money now.
The best way to start saving for retirement is to contribute to a tax-advantaged retirement account. It can be a Roth IRA, a traditional IRA or a 401(k) account. A 401k account should be your best choice, because the amount you can contribute every year is much more than a Roth IRA and traditional IRA.
1. See if you can max out your 401k. If you’re lucky enough to have a 401k plan at your job, you should contribute to it or max it out if you’re able to. The contribution limit for a 401k plan if you’re under 50 years old is $19,000 in 2019. If you’re funding a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA, the limit is $6,000. For more information, see How to Become a 401(k) Millionaire.
2. Automate your retirement savings. If you’re contributing to an employer 401k plan, that money automatically gets deducted from your paycheck. But if you’re funding a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA, you have to do it yourself. So set up an automatic deposit for your retirement account from a savings account. If your employer offers direct deposit, you can have a portion of your paycheck deposited directly into that savings account.
Related: The Best 5 Places For Your Savings Account.
How long do you expect to live? Have your parents or grandparents lived through 80’s or 90’s or 100’s? If so, there is a chance you might live longer in retirement if you’re in good health. Therefore, you need to adjust your savings goal higher.
Consider seeking financial advice.
Saving money for retirement may not be your strong suit. Therefore, you may need to work with a financial advisor to boost your retirement income. For example, if you have a lot of money sitting in your retirement savings account, a financial advisor can help with investment options.
Figuring out how much is enough for retirement depends on how much retirement will cost you and what lifestyle you intend to have. Once you know the answer to these two questions, you can start working towards your savings goal.
How much money you will need in retirement? Use this retirement calculator below to determine whether you are on tract and determine how much you’ll need to save a month.
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Working With The Right Financial Advisor
You can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals (whether it is paying off debt, investing, buying a house, planning for retirement, saving, etc). Find one who meets your needs with SmartAssetâs free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.
The post How Much Is Enough For Retirement? appeared first on GrowthRapidly.
Everyone knows that raising kids can put a serious squeeze on your budget. Beyond covering day-to-day living expenses, there are all of those extras to considerâsports, after-school activities, braces, a first car. Oh, and don’t forget about college.
Add caring for elderly parents to the mix, and balancing your financial and family obligations could become even more difficult.
“It can be an emotional and financial roller coaster, being pushed and pulled in multiple directions at the same time,” says financial life planner and author Michael F. Kay.
The “sandwich generation”âwhich describes people that are raising children and taking care of aging parentsâis growing as Baby Boomers continue to age.
According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, 17 percent of adult children serve as caregivers for their parents at some point in their lives. Aside from a time commitment, you may also be committing part of your budget to caregiving expenses like food, medications and doctor’s appointments.
When you’re caught in the caregiving crunch, you might be wondering: How do I take care of my parents and kids without going broke?
The answer lies in how you approach budgeting and saving. These money strategies for the sandwich generation and budgeting tips for the sandwich generation can help you balance your financial and family priorities:
Communicate with parents
Quentara Costa, a certified financial planner and founder of investment advisory service POWWOW, LLC, served as caregiver for her father, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, while also managing a career and starting a family. That experience taught her two very important budgeting tips for the sandwich generation.
First, communication is key, and a money strategy for the sandwich generation is to talk with your parents about what they need in terms of care. “It should all start with a frank discussion and plan, preferably prior to any significant health crisis,” Costa says.
Second, run the numbers so you have a realistic understanding of caregiving costs, including how much parents will cover financially and what you can afford to contribute.
17 percent of adult children serve as caregivers for their parents at some point in their lives.
Involve kids in financial discussions
While you’re talking over expectations with your parents, take time to do the same with your kids. Caregiving for your parents may be part of the discussion, but these talks can also be an opportunity for you and your children to talk about your family’s bigger financial picture.
With younger kids, for example, that might involve talking about how an allowance can be earned and used. You could teach kids about money using a savings account and discuss the difference between needs and wants. These lessons can help lay a solid money foundation as they as move into their tween and teen years when discussions might become more complex.
If your teen is on the verge of getting their driver’s license, for example, their expectation might be that you’ll help them buy a car or help with insurance and registration costs. Communicating about who will be contributing to these types of large expenses is a good money strategy for the sandwich generation.
The same goes for college, which can easily be one of the biggest expenses for parents and important when learning how to budget for the sandwich generation. If your budget as a caregiver can’t also accommodate full college tuition, your kids need to know that early on to help with their educational choices.
Talking over expectationsâyours and theirsâcan help you determine which schools are within reach financially, what scholarship or grant options may be available and whether your student is able to contribute to their education costs through work-study or a part-time job.
Consider the impact of caregiving on your income
When thinking about how to budget for the sandwich generation, consider that caring for aging parents can directly affect your earning potential if you have to cut back on the number of hours you work. The impact to your income will be more significant if you are the primary caregiver and not leveraging other care options, such as an in-home nurse, senior care facility or help from another adult child.
Costa says taking time away from work can be difficult if you’re the primary breadwinner or if your family is dual-income dependent. Losing some or all of your income, even temporarily, could make it challenging to meet your everyday expenses.
“Very rarely do I recommend putting caregiving ahead of the client’s own cash reserve and retirement.”
When you’re facing a reduced income, how to budget for the sandwich generation is really about getting clear on needs versus wants. Start with a thorough spending review.
Are there expenses you might be able to reduce or eliminate while you’re providing care? How much do you need to earn each month to maintain your family’s standard of living? Keeping your family’s needs in focus and shaping your budget around them is a money strategy for the sandwich generation that can keep you from overextending yourself financially.
“Protect your capital from poor decisions made from emotions,” financial life planner Kay says. “It’s too easy when you’re stretched beyond reason to make in-the-heat-of-the-moment decisions that ultimately are not in anyone’s best interest.”
Keep saving in sight
One of the most important money strategies for the sandwich generation is continuing to save for short- and long-term financial goals.
“Very rarely do I recommend putting caregiving ahead of the client’s own cash reserve and retirement,” financial planner Costa says. “While the intention to put others before ourselves is noble, you may actually be pulling the next generation backwards due to your lack of self-planning.”
Sunny skies are the right time to save for a rainy day.
Start an emergency fund with no minimum balance.
Discover Bank, Member FDIC
Making regular contributions to your 401(k), an individual retirement account or an IRA CD should still be a priority. Adding to your emergency savings each monthâeven if you have to reduce the amount you normally save to fit new caregiving expenses into your budgetâcan help prepare you for unexpected expenses or the occasional cash flow shortfall. Contributing to a 529 college savings plan or a Coverdell ESA is a budgeting tip for the sandwich generation that can help you build a cushion for your children once they’re ready for college life.
When you are learning how to budget for the sandwich generation, don’t forget about your children’s savings goals. If there’s something specific they want to save for, help them figure out how much they need to save and a timeline for reaching their goal.
A big part of learning how to budget for the sandwich generation is finding resources you can leverage to help balance your family commitments. In the case of aging parents, there may be state or federal programs that can help with the cost of care.
Remember to also loop in your siblings or other family members when researching budgeting tips for the sandwich generation. If you have siblings or relatives, engage them in an open discussion about what they can contribute, financially or in terms of caregiving assistance, to your parents. Getting them involved and asking them to share some of the load can help you balance caregiving for parents while still making sure that you and your family’s financial outlook remains bright.
The post Budgeting Tips for the Sandwich Generation: How to Care for Kids and Parents appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
Hello! Are you interested in starting a dog treat bakery business? Well, good news, this article will tell you what you need to know. Plus, you can sign up for this free training workshop that will teach you how to start your own side hustle baking and selling dog treats.
Hi! My name is Kristin Larsen, and I runBelieve in a Budget, a blog about personal finance and my experience with various side hustles. (It feels like I’ve tried them all over the years!)
As I’ve written about before here on Making Sense of Cents, my favorite online side hustle is working as a Pinterest virtual assistant. Managing Pinterest accounts is a great way to earn an income entirely online.
But today, I’m here to talk about a completely different side hustle, one that can be run entirely offline if you want (or entirely online, or a combination!).
While I love being able to work from home (or anywhere) on my computer, there is something to be said about stepping away from the computer and doing work that doesn’t involve the ‘virtual world’ – work that requires you to move around a little instead of being planted in front of a screen all day long!
In the case of this side hustle, it involves moving around the kitchen baking up beautiful and delicious dog treats.
Yes, dog treats!
The side hustle I’m speaking of is starting a dog treat bakery and I’m so excited to share it with you today. As a successful dog treat baker myself, I know first-hand how in-demand and lucrative this business can be.
How do you start a dog bakery?
How I Took My Dog Treat Bakery from Passion to Side Hustle to Full-Time Job
My dog treat bakery story started over ten years ago when I was an interior architect and designer at my 9-5 job.
At the time, I was the proud dog mom of Bella, a sweet-but-very-high-maintenance pup. Her birthday was coming up and I wanted to give her a birthday treat that fit her ‘diva dog’ personality.
I went to the local pet store and perused the aisles, but all I could find were treats filled with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce that looked like they had been sitting on the shelves for years. After a disappointing visit, I walked out the door and decided that I was going to bake Bella a treat.
This was kind of laughable since baking was not something I had done much of in my life, but I was going to figure out a way to make it work.
I decided to do some research by going to a local bakery and spending a lot of time staring at the baked goods (awkward!), trying to figure out which one I could recreate for Bella. I finally decided on a pretty cupcake adorned with white icing.
I went home, researched dog-safe ingredients and got to work planning Bella’s birthday treat. After a quick trip to Target to buy a mini cupcake tin, I started baking.
About an hour later, her birthday cupcake was baked, iced and ready to serve. Despite its small size, it was a huge success – she loved it!
As soon as I saw how much she loved her treat, you could say I became a little obsessed with making wholesome, healthy treats for her. Soon, I started gifting them to friends and family.
I went from developing a single cupcake recipe to developing over 20 different dog treat recipes – everything from treat bones to cookies to brownies to cakes!
Pretty soon, the friends and family who were on the receiving end of my gifts were saying: ‘Kristin, our dog(s) LOVED your treats. Can we buy some to gift? Can my friends/family/co-workers/neighbors buy some?’
With those questions, Diva Dog Bakery™ was born!
My little ‘obsession’ quickly became a side hustle, first bringing in $100 to $200 a month, then over $500 a month, just selling through word-of-mouth.It was the easiest money I had ever made!
In a serendipitous turn of events, I ended up losing my 9-5 job a few months after I started Diva Dog Bakery™. It was during the Great Recession, so I couldn’t find a job in my industry anywhere. My unemployment checks weren’t enough and I was quickly going through my savings.
I was initially stuck in a ‘dog treat bakery = side hustle’ mindset, so it didn’t immediately occur to me to try to turn my side hustle into a full-time business. But when my money was drying up, it finally clicked: I can turn this into a full-time business!
I went all-in on my bakery and hustled hard. I sold at multiple farmers markets every Saturday (shout-out to my parents who helped me ‘be’ in multiple locations at once!), started a successful Etsy shop and also sold products wholesale.
Pretty soon, I went from going broke to making a solid $3,000 to $4,000 per month… despite the economy being in the biggest downturn since the Great Depression.
Needless to say, I was ecstatic!
The especially exciting thing about my earnings is this was nearly ten years ago when the dog treat industry wasn’t nearly as hot. These days, my efforts could easily bring in double that!
The Opportunities in the Dog Treat Industry (Why You Should Start a Dog Treat Bakery)
When I first started my dog treat bakery, the idea of buying homemade cupcakes or brownies or cookies for your dog was still considered a little ‘out there.’
These days, dog owners are much more tuned in to the idea of pampering their pooches and they’re willing to spend money to make it happen.
Here are a few interesting stats for you:
The dog treat market is incredibly hot right now and getting even hotter… to the tune of almost 7 BILLION dollars in sales in just 2020 alone! (source)
Over six out of ten dog owners are concerned about the safety of the dog treats they purchase. (source)
Dog owners are especially interested in purchasing dog treats with wholesome, easy-to-pronounce ingredients. (source)
It’s never been a better time to get started with a homemade dog treat bakery!
How Much You Can Earn Baking Dog Treats at Home
If you just want to run a fun-but-profitable hobby, you can easily earn $500 to $1,000 a month with a dog treat bakery as a side hustle.
At this level, you can do all of the work yourself in just a few hours a week. If you have kids, you can also have them pitch in. A dog treat bakery is a great family business!
If you want to turn your dog treat bakery into a full-time business, you can scale it into four figures a month, or even five figures a month.
If you want to scale your dog treat bakery into a full-time business, expect to work 30 to 35 hours a week yourself. If you want to have a heavy farmers market presence, you will probably need to bring on some help for a few hours each week so you can have a presence at multiple farmers markets at the same time. (The best ones are usually on Saturday mornings.)
If things get really busy, you can bring on baking help, marketing help, shipping help and more! You can make this business as big (or as small) as you’d like.
Where to Sell Your Dog Treats
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you can run your dog treat baking business in a way that suits your lifestyle. You can run it offline, online, or both!
There are so many ways and places to sell your treats, but here are a few ideas to get you started.
Wholesale to local businesses (e.g., pet stores, veterinarian offices, gift shops)
Social media for local sales
Social media for nationwide sales
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Dog Treat Bakery?
Like nearly all businesses, starting a dog treat bakery comes with a few start-up costs, but you will easily earn these back when sales start coming in, or you can even take pre-sale orders! (Have I mentioned that the profit margin on dog treats is amazing?!)
Typical start-up costs for homemade dog treat bakeries in the U.S.* include:
$20 to $50 for the initial ingredients, plus a few inexpensive baking tools if you don’t already have them in your kitchen
$0 to $75 for treat packaging costs
$25 to $50 for a business license
Between a $25 one-off fee to up to a $50 per-treat fee to register your treats with your state – this will depend on your state’s regulations
*Costs and laws outside of the U.S. will vary from what is listed here.
Are Dog Treat Bakeries Regulated?
Yes, but not nearly as much as‘people food’ bakeries. (Good for would-be dog treat bakers, but a little sad for our furry friends!)
In the U.S., the exact regulations you will need to follow are decided by your state and sometimes your local area (e.g., county, city). This is easy information to find out by contacting the following agencies:
State department of agriculture or feed control office
State and local health departments
You can also contact your state’s business agency and tell them you want to start a pet treat bakery. Many states have information on file about pet treat bakeries that tell you everything you need to do.
Don’t be intimidated by this process – in most cases, all you have to do is fill out a few forms and pay a few small registration fees!
How to Get Started as a Dog Treat Baker
When I first started Diva Dog Bakery™, I honestly had no idea what I was doing.
Although I saw success pretty quickly, there was a lot of trial-and-error because I had no one to guide me. I didn’t know anyone who owned a bakery, let alone a dog treat bakery.
The one thing I definitely did right at the beginning – and what I recommend to you if you want to become a homemade dog treat baker – was to spend some time in the kitchen learning how to make treats.
Because I wasn’t much of a baker (and maybe you aren’t either), getting a little baking experience under my belt was very helpful.
I also tested out my treats on my dogs and the dogs of some of my friends and family. Dogs may not be able to talk, but you can tell pretty easily which treats they love eating and which treats they’ll turn their nose up at!
With this data, you can start to package up and sell the most-liked treats. You can scale it from there and start to build up your business.
If the idea of going it alone on a dog treat bakery business sounds a little intimidating, I’d like to welcome you to join the Diva Dog Bakery™ course where I’ll teach you exactly how to build a thriving dog treat bakery business!
Here’s what the course covers:
How to best make and store dog treats (this is where you’ll practice your baking techniques)
How to turn your hobby into a legal dog treat business
How to package your treats beautifully without hours of effort (beautifully packaged treats command premium prices!)
How to price your dog treats so you maximize your revenue
Where to sell your dog treats: offline, online or both
The best methods for accepting payment
How to most efficiently and inexpensively ship and deliver your treats
The best ways to promote your business so you build up a following of raving fans and repeat customers!
You’ll also receive valuable bonuses, including:
My full dog treat recipe book, which includes the most popular and profitable recipes I used in my bakery
Guaranteed analysis/nutrition labels to use on your treats (required by certain states)
30 days of free access to the Diva Dog Bakery™ Community so you can get all of your questions answered while you grow your business, including live training
It has been so exciting to help new dog treat bakers launch their businesses! Cheering on every baking success and every business success is truly the best part of my day.
Lessons Learned from a Cupcake… and a Phone Call
I like to say that Diva Dog Bakery™ started with a cupcake.
But it really, truly started when, after gifting treats to friends, one of those friends called me and said: ‘Kristin, can I buy a bag of your dog treats?’
Until that moment, I had no idea that anyone would actually want to pay for the treats I had been making as a labor of love.
I learned a valuable lesson that day: there is a market out there for so many different products and services. Whether it’s a product or service that we dream up on our own or that we learn from a course, there is probably someone who wants to buy it from us.
We just have to figure out a way to make that sale happen… and then make it happen again and again!
Dog Treat Bakeries are a Great Business to Start
If you’re interested in starting a business that’s ‘outside the box’ of the typical online businesses, then I highly recommend starting a dog treat bakery.
The industry is booming, the work is enjoyable, the profit margin is fantastic and (maybe the best reason of all) you have the cutest customers!
To get started on your dog treat bakery journey, I’m offering a free dog treat bakery workshop! Check out the sales page here and sign up for the free workshop.
If you have any other questions about starting a dog treat bakery after watching the workshop, just email me and I’d be happy to answer them.
Are you interested in starting a dog treat bakery?
The post How I Earned Up to $4,000 Per Month Baking Dog Treats (With Zero Baking Experience!) appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
If you have bad credit and need a car loan, there are some challenges when compared to obtaining a standard car loan. However, pick your head up because there are a handful of great lenders that specifically tailor their programs to people with bad credit. We researched the landscape of lenders that can help you get a car loan even if you have a below-average credit score.
Based on our study, OneMain Financial and LightStream are two of the top lenders offering bad credit card loans. This is due to factors including loan options, requirements to qualify, and interest rates offered. Of course, we offer in-depth reviews of all the top lenders who offer bad credit car loans further down in this piece.
Apply now with our top pick: OneMain Financial
In this guide we also help you understand the factors that go into selecting the right auto lender, and how to get the best rate you can.
Most Important Factors for Bad Credit Car Loans
If youâre in the market for a bad credit car loan, there are a plethora of factors to consider and compare. Here are the main loan details we looked at in our study, and the ones you should prioritize as you select the best car loan for your needs.
Check your credit score. And understand what is in your credit report.
FICO scores under 579 is considered ‘poor’. But you may need a bad credit loan with a score as high as 669.
Interest rates and fees matter. These can make a huge difference in how much you pay for an auto loan each month.
Compare loan terms. Consider your repayment timeline and compare lenders with this in mind.
Getting prequalified online can help. Some lenders, including ones that made our ranking, let you get prequalified for a loan online without a hard inquiry on your credit report.
Watch out for loan restrictions. Some lenders impose restrictions on what car you can purchase. Keep this in mind to avoid unpleasant surprises later.
The Best Bad Credit Car Loans of 2021
The best bad credit car loans make it easy for consumers to qualify for the financing they need. The following lenders made our list due to their superior loan offerings, excellent customer service, and reputation in this industry.
Car Loan Company
Best for Flexibility
Best Personal Loan Option
Best Loan for Bad Credit and No Credit
Best Loan Comparison Site
Best Big Bank Loan for Bad Credit
Best for Fast Funding
Why Some Lenders Didn’t Make the Cut
While the lenders we are profiling are the best of the best, there are plenty of bad credit car loans that didnât quite make the cut. We didnât include any lenders that only offer auto loan refinancing, for example, since we know many people need a car loan in order to purchase a new or used car or truck. We also stayed away from bad credit car loans that charge outrageous fees for consumers with the lowest credit scores.
Bad Credit Auto Loan Reviews
We listed the top companies we selected in our study above, but we also aim to provide readers with more insights and details on each. The reviews below highlight the highlights of each lender that made our list, plus our take on who they might be best for.
OneMain Financial: Best for Flexibility
OneMain Financial offers personal loans and auto loans with interest rates that range from 18.00% to 35.99%. You can repay your auto loan in 24, 36, 48, or 60 months, and you can use this lender to borrow up to $20,000 for a new or used car. You can apply for your auto loan online and from the comfort of your own home, and itâs possible to get approved within a matter of minutes.
While OneMain Financial doesnât list a minimum credit score requirement, itâs believed they will approve consumers with scores as low as 600. You should also note that auto loans from OneMain Financial come with an origination fee of up to 5% of your loan amount.
Sign Up With OneMain Financial Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: OneMain Financial offers a lot of flexibility in terms of your loan terms, including the option to repay your auto loan over five years. OneMain Financial also has pretty decent reviews from users for a bad credit lender, and they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: OneMain Financial charges some pretty high rates for its bad credit loans, and donât forget that you may need to pay an origination fee that is up to 5% of your loan amount. Their loans are also capped at $20,000, which means this lender wonât work for everyone.
Who Itâs Best For: This lender is best for consumers with really poor credit who need auto financing but canât get approved for a better loan.
Upgrade: Best Personal Loan Option
Upgrade is an online lender that offers personal loans with fixed interest rates, fixed monthly payments, and a fixed repayment timeline. You can borrow up to $50,000 in an unsecured loan, which means you wonât actually use the car you purchase as collateral for the loan.
You can repay the money you borrow over 36 to 60 months, which makes it possible for you to tweak your loan offer to secure a monthly payment you can afford. Upgrade has a minimum credit score requirement of 620 to qualify, although theyâll consider additional factors such as your income and employment history.
Sign Up With Upgrade Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: Upgrade lets you âcheck your rateâ online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. This makes it easy to shop around and compare this loan offer to others without having to fill out a full loan application. Also note that Upgrade has an A+ rating with the BBB.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: Upgrade charges APRs as high as 35.89% for consumers with the worst credit, and an origination fee of up to 6% of your loan amount might also apply.
Who Itâs Best For: Upgrade is best for consumers with decent credit who need to borrow a larger loan amount. This loan is also best for anyone who wants an auto loan that isnât secured by their vehicle.
AutoCreditExpress.com: Best Loan for Bad Credit and No Credit
AutoCreditExpress.com is an online platform that lets consumers with bad credit and even no credit get the financing they need. Once you fill out some basic loan information, youâll be connected with a lender who can offer you financing as well as a dealership in your area. From there, youâll head to the local dealership and pull the pieces of your auto loan together, including the purchase price of the car you want.
Sign Up With Autocreditexpress.com Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: AutoCreditExpress.com has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. This platform also makes it possible for consumers with no credit at all to finance a car, which is a welcome relief for people who are building credit for the first time.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: This website is a loan platform but they donât offer loans directly to consumers. This means you wonât have any idea on rates and terms until you fill out an application and get connected with a lender.
Who Itâs Best For: This loan is best for consumers with no credit or minimal credit history who cannot get approved for a loan elsewhere.
MyAutoLoan.com: Best Loan Comparison Site
MyAutoLoan.com is a loan comparison site that makes it easy to compare up to four auto loan offers in a matter of minutes. You can use this website to apply for a new auto loan, but you can also utilize it to consider refinancing offers for an auto loan you already have. You can also use funds from this platform to purchase a car from a dealer or from a private seller.
Sign Up With MyAutoLoan.com Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: Comparing auto loans in terms of their terms, rates, and fees is the best way to save money and wind up with the best deal. Since MyAutoLoan.com is a loan comparison site, they make it easy to shop around and compare competing offers.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: Loan comparison sites connect you with other lenders who have their own loan terms and minimum requirements for approval. Make sure you know and understand all the details of loans youâre considering before you sign on the dotted line.
Who Itâs Best For: MyAutoLoan.com is best for consumers who want to do all their auto loan shopping with a single website.
Capital One: Best Big Bank Loan for Bad Credit
Capital One offers online auto loan financing in conjunction with a program called Auto NavigatorÂ®. This program lets you get prequalified for an auto loan online, then work with a participating dealer to coordinate a loan for the car you want. Capital One also lets you search available vehicles at participating dealerships before you apply for financing, making it easy to figure out how much you might need to borrow ahead of time.
Sign Up With Capital One Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: Capital One offers the huge benefit of letting you get prequalified online without a hard inquiry to your credit report. Capital One is also a reputable bank with a long history, which should give borrowers some comfort. They have an A+ rating with the BBB and plenty of decent reviews from consumers.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: You should be aware that Capital One auto loans only work at participating dealers, so you may be limited in terms of available cars to choose from.
Who Itâs Best For: Capital One auto loans are best for consumers who find a car they want to buy at one of the participating lenders that works with this program.
LightStream: Best for Fast Funding
LightStream offers online loans for a variety of purposes, including auto financing. Their auto loans for consumers with excellent credit start at just 3.99% with autopay, and even their loans for consumers with lower credit scores only run as high as 16.79% with autopay.
You can apply for your LightStream loan online and get approved in a matter of minutes. This lender can also send your funds as soon as the same business day you apply.
A minimum credit score of 660 is required for loan approval, although other factors like your work history and income are considered.
Sign Up With LightStream Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: LightStream offers auto loans with exceptional terms, and thatâs even true for consumers with less than perfect credit. You can also get your loan funded as soon as the same business day you apply, which is crucial if you need auto financing so you can get back on the road.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: With a minimum credit score requirement of 660, these loans wonât work for consumers with the lowest credit scores.
Who Itâs Best For: LightStream is best for people with decent credit who need to get auto loan financing as quickly as possible.
What You Need To Know When Applying For A Car Loan With Bad Credit
Interest rates and fees matter.
If you think your interest rate and loan fees wonât make a big difference in your monthly payment, think again. The reality is that rates and fees can make a huge difference in how much you pay for an auto loan each month. Consider this: A $10,000 loan with an APR of 35.89% will require you to pay $361 per month for five years. The same loan amount at 21.99% APR will only set you back $276 per month. At 9.99%, you would pay only $212 per month for five years. The bottom line: Make sure to compare auto loans for bad credit so you wind up with the lowest possible APR you can qualify for.
Take steps to improve your credit score before you apply.
Itâs not always possible to wait to apply for a car loan, but you may be able to secure a lower interest rate and better loan terms if you can improve your credit score before you borrow money. The most important steps you can take to improve your score include paying all your bills early or on time, as well as paying down debt in order to decrease your credit utilization. You should also refrain from opening or closing too many credit card accounts in order to avoid new inquiries on your credit report and maintain the longest average length of your credit history possible.
Compare loan terms.
Some lenders let you borrow money for up to 84 months, while others let you repay your loan over 36 or 60 months at most. If you need to repay your loan over a longer timeline in order to secure an affordable monthly payment, make sure to compare lenders based on this factor. If youâre having trouble figuring out how much can you can afford, gauging affordability based on the monthly payments you can handle can also help in that effort.
Getting prequalified online can help.
Some lenders, including ones that made our ranking, let you get prequalified for a loan online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. This makes it considerably easier to compare rates and shop around without formally applying for an auto loan. Getting prequalified with more than one lender can also help you determine which one might offer the lowest rate without having to fill out a full loan application.
Watch out for loan restrictions.
As you compare the lenders on this list, keep in mind that not all lenders extend loans for any car you want. Some only let you finance cars with participating lenders in their network, which can drastically limit your options and make it impossible to purchase a car from a private seller. If you hope to purchase a car from someone you know or a website like craigslist.org, you may want to consider reaching out to your personal bank or a credit union you have a relationship with.
Bad credit car loans donât have to be forever.
Finally, you should know that a car loan for bad credit doesnât have to last forever. You may need to borrow money for a car right now regardless of the interest rate and terms you can qualify for, but it may be possible to refinance your loan into a better loan product later on. This is especially true if you focus on improving your credit score right away, and if you use your auto loan as an opportunity to prove your creditworthiness.
How to Get the Best Rate
1. Check your credit score.
Your credit score is one of the most important defining factors that dictate loan costs. Before you apply for an auto loan, it can help you check your credit score to see where you stand. Your score may not be as bad as you realize, but it could also be worse than you ever imagined. Either way, it helps to know this important information before you start shopping for an auto loan.
2. Improve your credit over time.
If your credit score needs work, youâll want to take steps to start improving it right away. The most important steps you can take to boost your credit score include paying all your bills early or on time and paying down debt to decrease your credit utilization. Also, make sure youâre not opening or closing too many credit accounts within a short amount of time.
3. Check your credit reports.
Use the website AnnualCreditReport.com to get a free copy of your credit reports from all three credit bureaus. Once you have this information, check over your credit reports for errors. If you find false information that might be hurting your score, take the steps to have the incorrect information removed.
4. Compare loan offers from at least three lenders.
A crucial step to get the best rate involves shopping around and comparing loan offers from at least three different lenders. This is important since lenders with different criteria might offer a lower APR or better terms than others.
5. Be flexible with repayment terms.
Also consider a few different loan terms provided you can afford the monthly payment with each. Some auto lenders offer better rates for shorter terms, which can help you save money if you can afford to repay your loan over 24 or 36 months instead of 60+.
How We Chose the Best Auto Loans
The lenders on our list werenât plucked out of thin air. In fact, the team behind this guide spent hours comparing auto lenders based on a wide range of criteria. Hereâs everything we considered when comparing the best bad credit car loans of 2021:
Interest Rates and Loan Terms: Our team looked for loans that offer reasonable rates and terms for consumers with poor credit. While higher APRs are typically charged to consumers with a low credit score, we only considered lenders that offer sensible rates that donât seem out of line for the auto loan market.
Ratings and Reviews: We gave preference to lenders who have decent reviews online, either through Consumer Affairs, Trustpilot, or another third party website. We also gave higher marks to lenders who have a positive rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Online Availability: Lenders who offer full loan details online were definitely given top priority in our ranking, and lenders who let you get prequalified online without a hard inquiry on your credit report were given the most points in this category. But since not everyone wants to apply for a loan online, we also included some lenders that let you apply over the phone.
Approval Requirements: Finally, we looked for lenders that extend credit to consumers with low credit scores in the first place. Not all lenders offer specific information on approval requirements, but we did our best to sort out lenders that only accept borrowers with good or excellent credit.
Summary: Best Bad Credit Card Loans of 2021
Best for Flexibility: OneMain Financial
Best Personal Loan Option: Upgrade
Best Loan for Bad Credit and No credit: AutoCreditExpress.com
Best Loan Comparison Site: MyAutoLoan.com
Best Big Bank Loan for Bad Credit: CapitalOne
Best for Fast Funding: LightStream
The post What Are the Best Car Loans When You Have Bad Credit? appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
The post Smart Moves to Make with Your Tax Refund appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
It is tax season!
You know the goal is not to get much of a refund.
However, a refund is always better than paying in!
But when that money shows in your account donât go and blow it on what you want!Â Make some smart moves with your refund.
Pay off debt
If you have debt then that means you should not have fun with any extra money. Nope. Every penny that you earn (beyond your regular income) should be used to pay off your debt.
While some experts will claim to pay the bill with the highest interest rate, I recommend paying the lowest balances first.Â The reason is you see results.
If you are getting $2,000 back and owe $500, $1500 and $2500, pay off two of your bills. Now,Â youâve got one payment and can roll all three monthly payments into one and pay that largest bill off more quickly.
You see progress in moving from three debts to one and that alone can be enough to keep you motivated.
Build your emergency fund
Experts used to say that your emergency fund should be three months of income for a family.Â After watching many struggle through the last recession, I recommend it be six-nine months instead!
I get that is a LOT of money to save up, but your tax refund can be the perfect way to build up your savings.Â But donât put it in your regular savings account. You donât want to be tempted to spend it.
Set up a new account at your bank. Deposit your refund into the account that is for emergencies only. Donât touch it.
Now youâve got money earmarked for your emergencies and should never touch it unless absolutely necessary.
Invest in your future
It is fun to spend money now but if your retirement accounts have taken a beating (or if they are non-existent) it is time to make that investment.
Visit with a financial expert and set up an IRA or other type of retirement savings account and invest that money.Â That $1,000 you fund today will be worth much more when it is time to cash it in.
Look around your house for appliances or vehicles that may need to soon be replaced. When you catch a sale, make the investment now. Donât wait for it to break down completely.
If you do wait, you may be forced to pay full price and your money wonât go as far. Being proactive and replacing what needs to be when the price is right is a smart money move.
Make home improvements
Look around the house to see what needs to be repaired or updated. Is the paint starting to peel on the trim? Is the carpet wearing out?
Your house is an investment youâve made so you need to take care of it. Peeling paint can lead to dry rot. Old carpet could lead to more stains, odors or even damage to the subfloor (which could cost you even more).
Take care of your house so when the time comes to sell, it is in great shape so you can get top dollar.
Do something for yourself
There is nothing wrong with making an investment in your well-being. In fact, it could be a very smart move.
When you feel better about yourself and give yourself the opportunity to get or do things you donât normally, it changes your perspective.Â You get the chance to focus on you and that is a GOOD thing.
Splurge on that handbag. Go out to dinner. Set up that spa day. Just donât go too overboard.
Spend it as a family
You can also get the family to weigh in what you can do with your refund. You may have no debt; an emergency fund and retirement looks great. That means you can do something fun!
Talk with the kids about what to do with the refund.Â It may be a vacation or adventure.Â It may mean buying a basketball hoop or bikes for everyone.
Work together to determine the best way to use the money.
A tax refund is your money. Use it wisely.
The post Smart Moves to Make with Your Tax Refund appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
Austerity policies are nothing new. But talk about them in the news has recently escalated. In response to its ongoing debt crisis, the Greek government is preparing to implement austerity measures aimed at helping the country regain its financial footing. If you didnât major in economics or you have no clue what austerity means, read on to find out how this fiscal program works.
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Austerity: A Definition
Trust us, austerity isnâtas complicated as it sounds. Austerity is a type of economic policy that governments use to deal with budget deficits. A country faces a deficit whenever itâs using more money than itâs earning from tax dollars.
By taking on an austerity package, a government hopes to reign in its spending, improve the status of its economy and avoid defaulting on its unpaid debt. Governments usually take on austerity measures in order to appease their creditors. In exchange, these lenders agree to bail out countries and allow them to borrow more money.
If you look up the word austere in the dictionary, youâll see that it means severe, grave, hard, solemn and serious. Indeed, austerity is nothing to joke about.
Austerity plans normally involve increases in different taxes, (property taxes, income taxes, etc.) budget cuts or a push to incorporate both. Government workers could lose their jobs or see their wages and benefits either decline or become stagnant. Hiking up interest rates, adding travel bans and keeping prices at a fixed level could be other strategies put in place to reduce spending.
Naturally, austerity measures typically arenât viewed in the best light because they mean that there might be fewer government programs available to the public. Aid for veterans and low-income families, healthcare coverage and pensions are some of the benefits that normally take a hit when a countryâs using an austerity package. Government services that arenât eliminated might not be as comprehensive or as beneficial as they once were.
As you can see, in an austere environment, conditions are tighter overall. Historically, austerity has been implemented in the US during tough times including World War I, World War II and the Great Recession of 2008.
Greeceâs new austerity package â which government lawmakers finally accepted in July 2015 â will feature less government funding, higher taxes and cuts to pension plans. As a result of this deal, the country was allowed to begin talks with its creditors about a third bailout.
Related Article: All About the Greek Debt Crisis
The Problems With Government Austerity
Experts on the economy tend to go back and forth about how effective austerity can be. Some believe that instead of turning to austerity, the government should pump out more money and borrow as much as possible if an economy is on the rocks.
From a political standpoint, austerity is often controversial and results in riots and demonstrations. Anti-austerity protests erupted in Greece, where quite a few folks say that past austerity programs have only made social and economic conditions worse.
Beyond slowing down the economy, an austerity bill can cause a country to remain in its debt crisis, particularly if itâs in the midst of a recession. As fiscal austerity decreases spending, GDP can go down while unemployment goes up. Consumers can get nervous and stop spending and investing their own money.
In short, austerity policies can make life even more difficult for people who are already struggling. Thatâs why governments tend to turn to them as a last resort if other strategies arenât working.
Why Austerity Might Not Be So Bad
Notable European creditors have argued that austerity can be beneficial to a countryâs long-term economic state. For instance, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has previously reported that austerity has done more damage than anticipated. But the European Central Bank released a paper saying that austerity has been helpful, at least for some of the weaker eurozone countries.
In fact, austerity has helped strengthen the economies in European countries like Latvia and Iceland. Although Spainâs unemployment remains high, its economy is in better shape overall. Ireland has made considerable progress as well toward rebuilding its economy.
Proponents of austerity policies say that they can make investors feel more optimistic when a country is being run more responsibly. Austerity has the potential to bring a shrinking economy back to life as everyday citizens invest in the private sector instead of relying on support from the federal government.
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The US used austerity measures between 2010 and 2014. Not only were our policies harsher than those employed by the governments in the UK and other European nations, but our economy fared better than theirs.
The point of austerity is to tighten the governmentâs belt, bring a countryâs debt back down to a more manageable level and stimulate an economy that has stopped growing. Countries generally try to meet these goals by cutting spending and raising taxes.
The debate over whether austerity works continues but one common theme has emerged. Timing matters. Some critics suggest that cutting too much too quickly during a recession can be painful. When introduced more slowly, however, (or when the economy is doing very well,) austerity measures can turn things around.
Not everyoneâs career path is a 40+ year marathon working full time until you can finally come up for air in your golden years.
Sometimes you need a little break along the way.
Taking time away from the workforce â whether itâs to travel, take care of loved ones, learn a new skill or whatever â can be a beneficial thing. But money â or the lack thereof â is what stops many people from even considering it.
With some significant planning and budgeting, however, itâs possible to make your career break dreams a reality. Here are five steps you should take when budgeting for a career break.
5 Steps for Career Break Budgeting
1. Think About What Your Career Break Will Look Like
People take career breaks for a number of reasons. Take some time to reflect on why you are planning time away from the workforce and what you intend to do.
When thinking about what your new day-to-day will look like, try to get as detailed as possible. Hone in on aspects that will affect you financially.
How long will your break last? When would you like it to start? Will you be staying at home or traveling the world? What adventures would you like to experience?
While itâs nice to dream about your best life ever, youâve got to be practical too. Ranking what you want to do with your newfound free time will be helpful if you have to cut your list down to fit what you can afford.
2. Explore What Your Costs Will Be During Your Break
After youâve fantasized what your work break will look like, itâs time to focus on the numbers. Youâve got to know what your expenses will be in order to determine whether your plans are realistic.
If you donât already budget your income and track your expenses, nowâs the time to start. Your budget will give you a good idea of how much you spend on essentials and where you can cut costs as you save up for leave.
Research all the additional costs you expect to incur during your break. If youâre taking extended parental leave after the birth of a child, youâll be dealing with a ton of new baby-related expenses. If youâre taking time off to travel, youâve got to pay for transportation and lodging.
The length of your break will also be a big factor here. Obviously, the longer youâre away from the workforce, the more money youâll need saved up.
FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM
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3. Set Up a Sinking Fund to Cover Expenses on Your Break
If you havenât heard the term âsinking fund,â thatâs just personal-finance speak for a stash of savings that you regularly contribute to over time to break up a big expense.
Once youâve estimated the overall expenses for your leave, divide that by how many months you have left to come up with your target monthly savings goal.
Switch to a bare-bones budget or try these other ways to save money fast so you can free up cash to add to your sinking fund.
If you already have existing savings you want to use to fund your career break, that will cut down on how much youâll need to put aside each month â just make sure you donât touch your emergency fund!
Your emergency savings should only be used on an actual emergency â like if you get into a car accident or Fido needs to be rushed to the pet hospital. Being away from work wonât make you immune to emergencies, so do not plan to use your emergency fund to tide you through your break.
In fact, before you focus on building up your sinking fund, you ought to have adequate savings in an emergency fund first.
4. Explore Opportunities to Make Money On Your Break
If youâre able to make money while youâre away from work, youâll be less financially burdened. You wonât have to save up as much or worry about burning through your entire savings.
The first income stream you should explore is your current job. Taking a career break doesnât necessarily mean calling it quits where you work now.
Depending on what type of leave youâre taking, your job may be protected and you might be able to continue collecting your salary â or a percentage of your current pay.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible workers with up to 12 weeks of leave after the birth or adoption of a child, to deal with a serious health condition or to care for an ill or injured family member. While this type of leave is unpaid, youâll continue to be covered under their workplace health insurance plan and there may be the possibility of coupling this leave with short-term disability pay.
President Joe Bidenâs proposed coronavirus stimulus package includes extending the expired paid time off policies for sick workers and those needing to care for family members due to COVID-19.
Find out if your employer offers any other paid leave programs â whether thatâs parental leave, unlimited PTO or sabbaticals. According to the Society for Human Resource Managementâs 2019 Employee Benefits Survey, 27% of employers offered paid parental leave, 6% offered unlimited paid leave and 5% offered a paid sabbatical program.
Another 11% of employers surveyed offered an unpaid sabbatical program. While unpaid leave isnât as ideal as paid leave, it gives you peace of mind that youâll have a job to come back to after your break.
Other options to make money during your leave include picking up a side gig, bringing in passive income, renting out rooms (or your entire place) on Airbnb or selling your belongings.
If you need to pick up a little work while youâre on a career break, just make sure it doesnât conflict with the reason you needed to take leave in the first place.
5. Develop a Re-Entry Plan
You need to plan for all aspects of your career break â including your transition back to the workforce.
Your budget needs to not only cover your expenses while youâre backpacking through Europe or nursing your elderly mother back to health. Youâve got to add a cushion for that period at the end where youâre actively seeking your next gig.
While data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the average length of unemployment is about 23 weeks, how long itâll take you to find new work will vary depending on your industry and the position youâre seeking.
Plan to keep up with contacts in your field and engage in relevant volunteer work or continued education while youâre away to improve your chances of quickly finding a new job.
If your savings run low toward the end of your leave, donât brush off finding a bridge job â a temporary role to help you pay the bills while you search for better opportunities.
A resume gap isnât the kiss of death it used to be. You can even craft a way to include side gigs on your resume.
A career break should provide you with freedom to pursue something outside of your typical work life. You donât want that freedom to drag you deeper into debt or put you in a worse financial position if you can avoid it.
Do your best to budget for more time than youâll need so you can enjoy your career break stress free.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authorâs alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
If left unchecked, extensive amounts of credit card debt can cripple your finances. The good news is there are many ways to handle debt, though each requires a dedicated effort on your part. But if you can manage to consolidate credit card debt, you will reduce your burden relatively quickly. In the process, youâll avoid the exorbitant interest rates that accompany most credit cards. Below we take a look at some of the most effective techniques you can use to make this goal a reality.
Find Out Your Credit Score
Before you can work on improving your credit and minimizing your debt, you have to know where you currently stand.
Many credit card issuers allow cardholders to see their FICOÂ® credit score free of charge once a month, so check out if any of your cards include that free credit score. The three major credit bureaus â TransUnion, Experian and Equifax â also give out free annual credit reports. If thatâs not enough, websites like Credit Karmaâ¢ and Credit Sesame provide a free look at your credit score and reports as well.
It is vital to review your credit report with a fine-tooth comb to ensure the accuracy of the information. If you find errors be sure to let the credit bureau in question know so the issue can be eradicated as soon as possible.
Zero Interest Balance Transfer Cards
Although it might seem counterintuitive to apply for another credit card to lessen your debt, a zero interest balance transfer card could really help. These cards typically include an introductory 0% balance transfer Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for six months or more. This ultimately allows you to move debt from one account to another without incurring more interest. However, once the introductory offer concludes, any leftover balances will revert to your base APR.
These offers arenât totally free, though. Most cards also charge a balance transfer fee thatâs usually between 3% and 5% of the transfer. Even with this initial payment, you will almost always still save money over leaving your debt where it stands currently.
If you want to consolidate credit card debt, here are three different balance transfer credit cards you could apply for, with varying introductory interest rates and transfer fees:
Balance Transfer Credit Cards Card Intro Balance Transfer APR Balance Transfer Fee Chase Slate 0% APR for first 15 months; then 16.49% to 25.24% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness No fee for first 60 days; then $5 or 5% of each transfer, whichever is greater Citi Double Cash Card 0% introductory APR for 18 months from date of first transfer when transfers are completed within 4 months from date of account opening; then 15.49% to 25.49% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness $5 or 3% of each transfer, whichever is greater BankAmericardÂ® credit card 0% APR for first 15 billing cycles; then 14.49% to 24.49% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness No fee for first 60 days; then $10 or 3% of each transfer, whichever is greater Take Out a Personal Loan
The thought of taking out another loan probably doesnât sound too appetizing to consolidate credit card debt. But a personal debt consolidation loan is one of the speediest ways to rid yourself of credit card debt. More specifically, you can use it to pay off most or all of your debt in one lump sum. That way, your payments are all merged into a single account with your lender.
The APR and length of the offered loan and the minimum credit score needed for approval are the main factors that should go into your final decision on a lender. By concentrating on these three components of the loan, you can map out what your monthly payments will be. As a result, you can more easily implement them into your financial life.
Applying for a personal consolidation loan can have a detrimental effect on your credit. Unfortunately, most institutions will run a hard credit check on you prior to approval. However, many online lenders donât do this, which might ease your mind depending on the severity of your debt situation.
These loans are available through a wide variety of financial institutions, including banks, online lenders and credit unions. Here are a few examples of some of the most common debt consolidation lenders:
Common Debt Consolidation Lenders Banks Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Fifth Third Bank Online Lenders Lending Club, Prosper, Best Egg Credit Unions Navy Federal Credit Union, Unify Financial Credit Union, Affinity Federal Credit Union Auto or Home Equity Loan
If you own assets like a home or car, you can take out a lump-sum loan based on the equity you hold in them to consolidate credit card debt. This is a great way to reuse money you paid toward an existing loan to take care of your debt. When paying back your auto or home equity loan, youâll usually pay in fixed amounts at a relatively low interest rate. Even if this rate isnât great, itâs likely much better than any offer youâd receive from a card issuer.
Equity loans are technically a second mortgage or loan, meaning your house or car will become the loanâs collateral. That means you could lose your house or car if you cannot keep up with your equity loan payments.
Create a Budget
To build a budget, you first need to figure out your approximate monthly net income. Donât forget to take into account taxes when youâre doing this.
You can then start subtracting your variable and fixed expenses that are expected for the upcoming month. This is where you will likely be able to identify where youâre overspending, whether itâs on food, entertainment or travel. Once youâve completed this, you can begin cutting back where you need to. Then, use your surplus cash to pay off your debt one month at a time.
It shouldnât matter if youâre dealing with substantial credit card debt or not. A monthly spending budget should always be a part of how you manage your finances. While this is likely the slowest way to eliminate debt, itâs also the most financially sound. At its core, it attempts to fix the problem without taking funding from an outside source. This should leave very little financial strife in the aftermath of paying off your debt.
Professional Debt Counseling
Perhaps since youâve found yourself in serious debt, you feel like you want professional help getting out of it. Well the National Foundation for Credit CounselingÂ® (NFCCÂ®) is available for just that reason. The NFCCÂ® has member offices all around the U.S. that are certified in helping you consolidate credit card debt.
These counselors wonât only address your current financial issues and debt. Theyâll also work to create a plan that will help you avoid this situation again in the future.
Agencies that are accredited by the NFCCÂ® will have it clearly displayed on their website or at their offices. If youâre not sure where to look, the foundation created an agency locator thatâll help you find a counselor nearby.
Borrow From Your Retirement
Taking money early from your employer-sponsored retirement account obviously isnât ideal. Thatâs means borrowing from your retirement is a last-ditch alternative. But if your credit card debt has become such a handicap that itâs affecting all other facets of your life, it is a viable option to consolidate credit card debt.
Because you are technically loaning money to yourself, this will not show up on your credit report. Major tax and penalty charges await anyone who has trouble making payments on these loans though. To make matters worse, if you quit your job or are fired, youâre typically only given 60 days to finish paying it off to avoid incurring a penalty.
Tips To Consolidate Credit Card Debt
If you take the time to come up with a budget, donât let it go to waste. While you might find it tough to stick to, especially if youâre trying to cut back, it is the best way to manage your money correctly. Even if a budget becomes habit, stay vigilant with where your money is being spent.
Although a financial advisor will cost money, he or she might be able to help you keep your finances in check while ultimately helping you plan for the future as well. However, if this isnât an option for you financially, stay on track with your NFCCÂ® debt counselorâs plan.
There are so many ways to gain access to your credit score that thereâs virtually no excuse for not knowing it. It doesnât matter if you do it through one of the top three credit bureaus, FICOÂ® or one of your card issuers. Just remember to pay attention to those ever-important three digits as often as possible.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authorâs alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
Generally speaking, it takes seven to 10 business days to get a credit card once youâre approved. The specific amount of time can vary as many factors throughout the process affect how fast you receive your card. Getting approved can happen in a matter of seconds or days, depending on what kind of card you apply for. Whether you apply online or in person may also affect how fast youâll receive your credit card in the mail.
How Long Does It Take to Get My Card in the Mail?
The longest step in getting a credit card is waiting for it to come in the mail. Shipping time frames can vary depending on which credit card you apply for. Here are the average time frames of many popular credit card companies today:
American Express: seven to 10 business days
Wells Fargo: seven to 10 business days
Discover: three to five business days
Capital One: seven to 10 business days
Bank of America: seven to 10 business days
Chase: three to 5 business days
Citi: seven to 10 business days
Unfortunately, the time it takes for the credit card to go through the mail can be impacted by many factors out of your control. You may get your card sooner than stated above, or later if there are external mail carrier issues.
How to Get a Credit Card Right Away
Unfortunately, most credit cards arenât made available to you the same day you apply. Even though you can get approved for a card almost instantly, you must still wait for the card to come in the mail. However, credit card companies sometimes offer options to help speed up the process.
Most banks offer expedited shipping if you need your card delivered faster than usual. Depending on what type of card and bank you apply with, they may charge you an extra fee for this option. Some banks will make things easier for you by giving you your credit card number right after approval. This allows you to start making purchases while waiting for the physical card to arrive. American Express typically allows this with all of their cards to increase their user satisfaction.
What to Do If You Havenât Received Your Card Yet
If you notice that you havenât received your card after some time, reach out to your bank or credit card company. By reaching out, you minimize the risk of the card getting lost or stolen. Your bank may also be able to provide you with a temporary card while they sort everything out. Not all lenders, but if they do they may charge you an additional fee.
How To Apply for a Credit Card
To get a credit card, you must first apply either online or in person for approval. Receiving the credit card itself and waiting to be approved are two separate steps. Therefore, the time it takes to receive your card can vary from person to person.
What Do Creditors Look for in Applications?
Credit card applications typically ask for your personal information as well as your financial background. To determine your financial background, theyâll ask for your Social Security number and source of income.
Your Social Security number will allow the creditors access to your credit report. After close evaluation, youâll either be approved or declined for the card. When looking at your report, creditors typically pay close attention to data such as your debt-to-income ratio, hard inquiries, and any delinquent accounts you may have.
Your debt-to-income ratio refers to how much of your cardâs limit is spent. Consistently using too much of your limit may cause creditors to view you as more of a high-risk borrower. Similarly, too many hard inquiries can make you seem risky. Finally, a delinquent account is another red flag. This shows that you may not have been paying off your credit card bills on time. Lenders wonât be as willing to approve you for a credit card if you have a history of account delinquency, as itâs not a good sign for them that youâll be a reliable borrower.
Some credit card companies pre-approve users who they think may be a good fit based on a soft version of their credit report. A soft version of your report gives lenders a glimpse of your financial background, but wonât affect your credit score. When your report shows that you meet a few requirements, theyâll send a card in the mail for you to use if you apply. Receiving the card in the mail doesnât mean that you are automatically approved. It just helps speed up the process of getting a credit card. Pre-approving users is a way companies market their cards to users, in hopes of them applying later on.
How to Build Credit With a Credit Card
When you use a credit card, you build credit simultaneously. The way you manage and use your card can have either a positive or negative effect on your credit score.
How Long Does It Take to Build Credit?
If this is your first time using a credit card, then you are most likely building credit from scratch. Building a credit score doesnât happen overnight. It usually takes about six months or so to build enough credit to have a credit report. Beginning early can be of great benefit to you down the line. A major factor in the calculation of your credit score is the length of your credit history. The longer youâve spent building your credit, the more of a positive impact it can have on your score.
Ways to Keep Your Credit Score Healthy
When using a credit card, it can pay off in the long run to follow some best practices. You can do this by having a good understanding of what exactly factors into your credit score. The following are good habits to establish for maintaining a healthy score:
Make on-time payments to avoid a delinquent account.
Aim to only use 30 percent of your credit limit at a time to show you can manage your card wisely.
Avoid applying to too many cards or loans in a short time, as it can result in a hard inquiry. Too many hard inquiries can be the reason you are getting declined for your financial requests.
Stay on top of monitoring your credit score and report, so you can identify any mistakes before itâs too late to fix.
While the most common time frame for getting a credit card is seven to 10 days, it can vary from person to person. If this seems like a long time, try reaching out to your bank. They may be able to expedite shipping or give you access to your credit card number in advance. Each credit card lender is different, so itâs important to do your research before applying. Take a look at our guide on the best credit card offers to help start your search.
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